Garden tractor enthusiasts descend on Ogle County for 13th annual jamboree

OREGON — An Ogle County farm was bursting with yellow, green, red, and a bit of blue as 400 garden tractors converged May 14 for the 13th annual AJ’s Garden Jamboree.

Collectors came from seven states to “talk tractors” and then show what their Cub Cadets, John Deeres, Fords, Wheel Horses and other brands could do on the Hinrichs’ property off of Columbian Road, between Oregon and Polo.

“This is the most tractors I’ve seen since I’ve been coming here,” said Dave Devers of Rock Falls as he stood by his “fleet” of Economy Tractors. “These were made between 1946 and 1995. They were used on small farms and some were used on golf courses. The had all the attachments.”

Devers’ five tractors included one that was made in 1947 at the plant in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He bought his first Economy Tractor after mowing his lawn one time with a hand mower.

“I had a large lawn and I mowed it with a push mower— once. That’s when I bought a tractor,” Devers said smiling.

He began collecting in Economy Tractors in earnest after he retired from the HVAC profession.

Devers’ passion for his garden tractors was echoed by other owners at the event.

Jarod Cleveland of Polo used his 1973 Wheel Horse and its bucket attachment to scoop up gravel and distribute it down the center of show area in the “Gravel Pile” event.

Tractors lined up to carry, grade, and even out the gravel as they created a road.

“I’ve had this a little over a year,” said Cleveland.

Six-year-old Carter Urschel piloted one of his family’s vintage Cub Cadets through the gravel-road-building line with a bit of guidance from his dad, Scott.

Meanwhile, Alec Neuenschander of Evansville, Wisconsin was busy plowing the pumpkin patch with his 1968 Cub Cadet and its rear plow.

And in one of the barns, Braxton Haerther, 5, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was very busy shelling and grinding corn as his dad Jordan supervised.

“He’s never seen a hand sheller before today,” said Jordan. “He will definitely be taking a nap on the ride back home. Maybe we should get one of these for home.”

Antique corn shellers, along with other vintage farm tools, toys, and machinery are all part of the Jamboree experience.

“We like to have family activities and have events kids can take part,” said Andy Hinrichs, who named the event after his son AJ. “This is our 13th year. We’ve never skipped a year. Last year it was by invitation only and we had about 70 people here. Today we had 427.

“We had people here today from Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Kentucky…and one guy flew in from Colorado,” said Hinrichs. “He’s thinking about driving here next year and bringing a tractor load with him. Collectors use our event as a meeting place.”

Proceeds from admission and food sales help cover the cost of port-a-potties and the sound system along with other expenses for hosting the show, Hinrichs said.

“All the proceeds from the 4-H auction go to the Blackhawk Crossing 4-H Club,” said Hinrichs who is hoping to add new attractions to next year’s show, slated for the Saturday following Mother’s Day.

In the meantime, the farm is open for tours for groups and organizations. Visit Andy Hinrichs on Facebook for more information or call 815-262-6358.

Earleen Hinton

Earleen oversees production and content of 9 community weeklies and has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.